BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) – Sheriff Donny Youngblood has released the names of six people killed Wednesday night in what he said was a targeted series of shootings.
With the “who” and “what” known, investigators are now focused on the “why.”
The sheriff said a domestic dispute could be at the heart of this tragedy.
Javier Casarez, 54, gunned down his recently divorced wife and four other people in a span of just over a half hour at several different locations in east Bakersfield, Youngblood said.
His wife, 45-year-old Petra Maribel Bolanos De Casarez, was among the first victims.
The sheriff said there’s reason to believe Javier Casarez forced his wife to go with him to T&T Trucking on Manwell Boulevard, near Highway 58 and Weedpatch Highway. There, Javier Casarez confronted an employee, 50-year-old Manuel Contreras, and shot Contreras and his ex-wife.
Another man was there and was chased down and fatally shot outside nearby Bear Mountain Sports. That man was identified as 50-year-old Antonio Valadez.
The shooter then drove to a home on Breckenridge Road, where he confronted a man and that man’s daughter, Youngblood said.
Casarez shot both, identified as 31-year-old Laura Garcia and 57-year-old Eliseo Garcia Cazares. The sheriff said they believe Garcia stepped in to try to protect her father.
Youngblood said a “friend lived there” and that they believe the suspect was targeting them. Beyond that, the sheriff wouldn’t speculate.
The sheriff said the recent divorce and other incidents, such as fresh court filings regarding child support and property, could have lit the fuse. But, he said they won’t address some rumors investigators have heard until they can substantiate the information.
“We don’t know that that is the catalyst, but we believe that it certainly has the implications of domestic violence,” Youngblood said.
After shooting the pair at the home, Casarez went to Fillmore Avenue, where he committed a carjacking. There, he let a woman and her child go unharmed. The sheriff said Casarez reportedly made a comment about not being a bad guy.
The sheriff also said the fact that Casarez let the woman and child go is an indication that the others were all targets.
Other than the wife, Youngblood said they weren’t ready to comment on how all the involved parties knew each other.
The shooting spree ended after a deputy spotted Casarez and followed him into a lot off Edison Highway. There, Casarez ignored commands to drop his .50 caliber handgun, turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
During his news conference Thursday, the sheriff released the deputy’s body camera video of the shooter’s suicide.
*WARNING: Graphic video*
The couple had three children. One of the children is an adult who now has possession of the other two, the sheriff said.
The Sheriff’s Office also released Casarez’s photo and asked anyone who had contact with him leading up to the rampage – or anyone with other information helpful to the investigation – to call investigators at (661) 861-3110.